Only five days before the International Day for the Girl Child, a bizarre incident in the eastern state of Bihar took the country by shock! Such incidents, even in the era of Digital India, prove to us how backward we still are. It tells us that modernity has set in heterogeneously in our country. Certain communities & social groups are yet to be enlightened. Let’s find out what happened.

Darpakha is a quaint village near Patna. It houses the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) which is a residential school for girls from backward communities of society. The Balika Vidyalaya shares its playground with Model School where children from the villages nearby are educated.

The scandalous incident took place in the evening of 6 October 2018. The girls of KGBV were playing among themselves in the playground. They were mostly from classes VI to VIII. At this time, some boys from Middle School allegedly passed sexual & disgraceful comments on the girls. It was reported later that the boys even tried to molest the girls.

The girls did not shy away & defended themselves with sticks & stones. Fortunately, they were able to drive away the boys but little did they know what was going to happen a while later.

Hostel warden, KGVB, Reema Raj, accounted that she was busy with work at around 5 pm while she could hear the laughter of the girls playing in the ground. Soon, she could sense the normal sounds turning into shrieks & screams. At first, she did not bother but when the noises increased, she was aghast to find out that enraged parents of the Middle School boys had returned to beat up the minor girls with canes and rods.

Ms. Raj says that she immediately informed the security guards of the hostel, a few yards away, to come & rescue the girls. She also alerted the local administration. But as the guards entered, the mob, consisting of around 15 people, ran away.

Thirty-four minor girls were seriously injured & rushed to the nearest primary health center & then shifted to the Referral Hospital, Triveniganj, by district officials. The mob not only injured the little girls brutally but they also caused destruction on the school property.

SP Mrityunjay Kumar Choudhary said that the offenders are from the nearby Supaul village. While a complaint has been registered against 9 people, only 2 have been arrested. The rest are absconding.

While it is wished that the offenders are nabbed as fast as possible, the incident points to an issue which is much deeper. Arresting 9 people will not erase the problem Indian society is suffering from. Day in & day out we are witness to crimes against women that outrage us. In urban societies protests are common but the question is – who will uplift the rural circle?

It was reported that the KGVB girls were often prey to lewd remarks from Middle School boys in the past. The boys even wrote humiliating comments on the walls of the school to enrage the girls. The girls, on the ill-fated day, had driven the ill-mannered boys away in an attempt to protect their dignity. It was a natural & instinctive course of action while what the mob committed was a planned crime.

This incident is a major shame also because it happened inside a school – a place where we educate & groom our future generation – both mentally & externally.

Though Minister Krishan Nandan Prasad Verma, Department of Education, Bihar, says that to eliminate such incidents in the future, he will take necessary action like appointing female security guards etc, this incident will remain a fresh scar on the face of the state & the country.

While 11 girls are still under treatment at the Referral Hospital, two are in a serious state in the Sadar Hospital. It had been reported that the condition of the girls is improving but the bigger question is – when will the condition of women in India improve?

Is it doubtful how much the Union Government’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ movement is successful because our girls are not safe even in schools!